pole in cooperation with a-welle pole in ... - Merz Akademie


pole in cooperation with a-welle pole in ... - Merz Akademie



Organisation POLE


Prof. Dr. Christoph Holliger

University of Applied Sciences

Northwestern Switzerland

School of Engineering / Academy of Art

and Design

Klosterzelgstrasse 2, CH-5210 Windisch

Phone +41 56 462 44 06 / +41 62 777 27 75


Dr. Doris Agotai

University of Applied Sciences

Northwestern Switzerland

School of Engineering / i4Ds

Steinackerstrasse 5

CH-5210 Windisch, Switzerland

Phone +41 56 462 49 67


Prof. Sebastian Stroschein

University of Applied Sciences

Northwestern Switzerland

Academy of Art and Design

Bahnhofstrasse 102, CH-5000 Aarau

Phone +41 62 832 66 66


Disciplinary Coaches

FHNW, School of Engineering

• Prof. Dr. André Csillaghy

• Dr. Ingrid Giel

• Dr. Uwe Heck

• Dr. Wolfgang Weck

FHWN, School of Applied Psychology

• Magdalena Mateescu

Merz Akademie, Stuttgart

• Prof. Mario Doulis

• Stephan Schröter

University of Colorado

• Prof. Dr. Alexander Repenning

Industry Partners

Roman Kübler

Kanton Aargau, Departement Bau, Verkehr und Umwelt

Georg von Graefe

Kanton Aargau, Departement Bau, Verkehr und Umwelt

Martin Osuna

Geschäftsführer Tarifverbund A-Welle

University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland

Project ON TRACK

Table of Contents

POLE – A Platform for Learning and Teaching 4

Responsibilities of POLE and its Partner Universities 6

Assessment 7

ON TRACK Project Task 7

Process Design 8

Deliverables 8

Information and Collaboration Technologies ICT 9

Team Composition 10

Evaluation Criteria 10

Confidentiality Agreement 10

Budget for Production Costs 10

Cost of Living and Accommodation 10

Insurance 10

Project Agenda 2012 10

POLE - A Platform for Learning and Teaching

University students are nowadays increasingly challenged

within their specific core disciplines; in addition however,

they are also supposed to develop skills in order to apply

this particular knowledge in practice. This ideally goes

hand in hand with a sense of maturity of the individuals’

characters vis-à-vis the social, cultural, and economical

environment. The practical application of theoretical

knowledge can thus only be implemented successfully if

these three basic elements are taken into account.

In addition to university students’ disciplinary knowledge,

the ability to work efficiently within multicultural environments

has become increasingly important. Universities

are therefore looking to expand and deepen this particular

aspect in order to provide the necessary expertise in

this field. This realisation has led to universities becoming

more proactive with regards to networking and offering joint

courses, which is where POLE (Project Oriented Learning

Environment) is actively involved in. In the course of this

new collaboration, it has become apparent that the complementary

aspect has gained in importance. An example

for this is the liaising between strongly research-oriented

and more practically oriented universities with the common

goal of being able to implement the according results

as soon as possible. Apart from contributing to more comprehensive

and efficient process work, the POLE courses

lay particular emphasis on improved cultural know-how.


In order to do this, students are encouraged to contribute

their experiences within international teams, regardless of

geographical and language barriers.

POLE sees itself as a learning system cooperating with

other European or international universities. It does so

within a reflexive context, taking into account the various

cultures involved in order to create new methods of

resolution regarding teaching and learning methods. The

students are at the core of this concept, and are given

the option to develop process-oriented expert knowledge

through interdisciplinary teamwork. Simultaneously, they

learn to work independently and to deal with current problem

cases through the use of modern information and

communication tools.

Processes within POLE are largely organised within the

individual teams themselves. The according goals are set

and committed to within the teams; in case of resulting

conflicts, weight is given to iterative processes in order

to find solutions. A further characteristic of POLE is an

increasing tendency for the overlapping, or even amalgamation,

of various lines of work in order to give way to new,

holistic, and interdisciplinary perspectives. POLE is a comprehensive

platform which gives students the opportunity

to contribute their full potential. Each individual’s attitudes,

characteristics, and abilities are taken into account as a

whole in order to allow as much space as possible for in-

University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland

dependent development of students’ responsibilities and

skills. A contribution to the concept of ‘Campus in Mind’ is

made by POLE in providing the multi-disciplinary teams

with learning facilities that are based on experimental and

interactive technologies.

The teamwork in the POLE courses allows the students to

further expand their specific professional skills, on the other

hand, it also gives them the opportunity to develop more

generic competences, which nowadays is one of the key

qualifications in order to be able to adapt to a continuously

changing environment. The course also enables students

to evaluate their ability to function in a team and to analyse

their styles of communication. Through practical examples,

students are given the opportunity to explore how

well they are able to work in a team, and to what degree

they are flexible to accept members’ concerns from other

disciplines, i.e. how they can integrate these into their own

work and patterns of thinking.

Experts and mentors which do not form part of the university,

but are active members of businesses and the

industry in general, are an essential part of POLE courses.

Their participation contributes a high degree of practical

knowledge to the projects, pointing out the actual ‘state of

the art’. In this manner, POLE manages to link academic

education and professional practice. The intensive inter-

action between these two elements guarantees a rapid

transfer of technology, while at the same time ensuring

that the students involved are motivated to a high degree.

POLE is not only about to significantly remould the landscape

of teaching and learning at universities, but it also

intends to yield substantial influence concerning decisionmaking

and the creation of practical work processes. In

association with university teaching staff, the mentors are

instrumental in contributing expert knowledge and regular

feedbacks to the teams, while they are also actively involved

concerning the evaluation of processes and related

products. The latter will be of increasing importance in the

future, as scientific research has been initiated in connection

with reflections of certain POLE processes. It is the

intention of this kind of research to support students with

regards to the awareness of their personal learning styles.

The findings will then be made accessible for future work

in a broader context.

Further POLE research issues include for example the

creation of knowledge databases, which will serve as a

tool for more rapid evaluation of solutions and decision

making processes in the future. These efforts are based

on the knowledge that a large part of creational, construction,

and design processes are substantially shaped by


Project ON TRACK 5

The initial POLE courses had been launched as a result

of the ever increasing demands in the current building

trade, which is of a highly complex, segmented, and competitive

nature. Experts from the fields of architecture, civil

engineering, and construction management are clearly demanding

a broader education, along with more diversified

core skills for engineering students. The POLE learning

environment and its associated methodology is not limited

to this initial context, but allows students from practically

any discipline to apply their theoretical knowledge in

practical cases. Through collaboration in interdisciplinary

teams guided by process management students, students

from fields such as architecture, urban planning, civil engineering,

interior design, plastics engineering, mechanical

engineering and economics were given the opportunity to

cooperate in POLE projects and thus better understand

the individual processes involved and acknowledge their

relation to the social, economical, and political dimensions.

In 2012, when POLE goes into its 12th year, it becomes an

integrated part of iCompetence. iCompetence is an interdisciplinary

program of studies in computer science with a

strong focus on design and management. iCompetence is

hosted by the computer science department at the University

of Applied Sciences North Western Switzerland. The

POLE projects that are carried out in collaboration with

iCompetence take place in the autumn term (September

to January). They propose projects with an impact in the

field of human-computer interaction and bring together

the disciplines of computer science, design (namely in-


terface design, industrial design), psychology as well as

management. POLE invites students and faculty from Tecnológico

de Monterrey (Mexico), Savannah College of Art

and Design SCAD (USA), University of Colorado at Boulder

(USA), Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona

(Sweden), Merz Akademie, Stuttgart (Germany) and the

University of Applied Sciences North Western Switzerland

(as leading house).

Responsibilities of POLE and

its Partner Universities

POLE considers itself as a learning platform which enables

and facilitates interdisciplinary processes. It has also

proven to offer an excellent test bed for research in the

field of modern teaching and learning as well as in the field

of evaluation of novel learning spaces. At the same time it

is important to put on record that the responsibility for the

disciplinary supervision of the students remains with the

sending home universities. This relates also to the grading

of the students’ contribution. POLE on the other hand

will provide a qualification on the team processes and on

their interaction patterns. (It is suggested that students

who successfully participate in POLE projects receive academic

credits based on the ECTS.)

The experience during the previous POLE courses has

revealed that this double responsibility of the student

towards his or her POLE team and towards the home

university and professors, respectively, may also bear

conflicts. POLE demands that team decisions be re-

University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland

spected what the approach and the agreed objectives is

concerned; POLE leaders are convinced that within this

frame work there is still ample tether to adhere to high

academic standards in the disciplinary work.

Saying this makes it obvious that a close accompaniment

and monitoring of the project by the faculty of the partner

universities is essential and highly welcomed by POLE.

The involved faculty will receive full access to all documents

of the POLE project. Their participation during the

kick-off events, the reviews and the final presentations will

add to the interdisciplinary depth and thus to the quality of

the project and to further developments of POLE.



POLE has the ambition to continuously improve its learning

and teaching platform. One step to do so is by integrating

an external assessor into the process, who will participate

in as many of the POLE design activities. POLE has cooperated

in this field of evaluation and assessment with

the Department of Education of the University of Applied

Sciences Northwestern Switzerland and with Stanford

University since the very beginning in the year 2000. The

participatory assessment will focus on the effectiveness of

the design processes and the adequate use of collaborative

communication technologies.

Project Task: The Future of Ticketing

Railway pioneers constructed spectacular and adventurous

railway networks around the world more than 100

years ago. Travellers used to buy tickets at the railway station,

made of cardboard, and waited for the ticket inspector

to punch it. Those days are gone, upcoming technologies

have changed this field fundamentally. Ticketing machines

with touch-based displays as well as mobile apps have

appeared a few years ago and introduced new business

models. Instead of being attended personally, customers

have to buy a ticket on their own. On one hand, this brings

great advantages: No long waiting queues in front of the

counter, purchase of tickets from home and, therefore, reduction

of costs. On the other hand, these improvements

go along with difficulties in terms of usability: people get

lost within the user menu, ticketing machines are out of

order and customers find themselves upset.

The recent years have allowed for gaining experience in

this field. It is now time to look into the future: How will we

buy a ticket for the train tomorrow? How can we improve

existing interfaces and interaction solutions? The POLE

project 2012 will develop new concepts for ticket vending


The project ON TRACK will be organized in cooperation

with A-Welle, a Swiss railway and transportation company

based in Aarau. Their business is the organization of

public transportation within a network of cities like Baden,

Project ON TRACK 7

Aarau and Olten, but also historical landmarks like the

Habsburg Castel or the town of Kaiserstuhl. In 2009, new

display-based ticket vending machines were introduced.

But recent customer surveys clearly showed that there is

a need for improvements.

The task of the present project ON TRACK will be to conceive

and design new, innovative ideas and concepts for

ticketing solution. The outcome will be a new user centered

design solution for the existing system. In a first step,

the trans-disciplinary teams will gather ideas for visionary

concepts. In a second step, they will integrate these concepts

into interface and interaction prototypes that shall

provide a new user experience.

Considering these goals, it is clear why such an endeavor

can only be tackled by multi-disciplinary teams consisting

of designers, computer scientists, psychologists and

managers. Only an trans-disciplinary discourse will allow

for meaningful solutions, that make the seemingly impossible

– namely, the creation of an interface that simplifies

our life and that generates an appealing user experience

– possible!

Process Design

POLE as a platform for learning and teaching not only

focuses on the product but puts strong emphasis on the

structuring of the design process. The following list of deliverables

shall facilitate the work process for the teams

as a back bone.



At the end of the physical kick-off week (September 26,


• Written statement of team’s objective(s)

• Distributed collaboration and information management


• Description of the expected contributions of each

team member

Stopover One

(October 19, 2012):

Detailed list of prioritized product requirements, complete

with requirement categories, rationale, metrics, and target

ranges for each requirement (Draft version); must be uploaded

to the team’s intranet platform.

Design Review I

(Videoconference; October 23, 2012):

(duration of presentations 20 minutes/team;

discussion 30 minutes)

• Discussion of product requirements

• Discussion of initial product concepts (guided by the

product requirements)

• Discussion of ideation process

• Reflection on distributed collaboration and information

management framework (including the role of

each team member)

• Project timeline and milestone check


FINAL versions of all of the materials that will be used

University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland

in the design review presentation (PowerPoint presenta-

tions, spreadsheets, sketches, etc.) must be uploaded to

the team’s intranet platform 1 day prior to the review to

make sure that all sites have access to them.

Stopover Two

(November 13, 2012)

Detailed list of prioritized product requirements, complete

with requirement categories, rationale, metrics, and target

ranges for each requirement (Final version); must be uploaded

to the team’s intranet platform.

Design Review II

(Videoconference; November 27, 2012)

(duration 20 minutes/team plus 30 minutes discussion):

• Discussion of 2 to 3 down-selected product concepts

(in accordance with the product requirements)

• Discussion of final product concept (if one has been


• Discussion of decision-making process

• Reflection on distributed collaboration and information

management framework (including the role of

each team member)

• Project timeline and milestone check (including

identification of remaining tasks and deliverables for

project completion)

Note: FINAL versions of all of the materials that will be

used in the design review presentation must be uploaded

to the team’s intranet platform 1 day prior to the review.

Final presentation

(January 9, 2013)

All relevant final deliverables must be uploaded to POLE’s

ON TRACK Project intranet portal by January 7, midnight.

A.) Oral presentation of project outcomes for colleagues,

faculty and jury (duration: 30 minutes/team)

• Proof of concept demonstration (functional and visual

via “works-like” and “looks-like” prototypes)

• Discussion of why and to what extent the proposed

design fulfills product requirements

• Discussion of potential for future research and development


• Reflection on distributed collaboration and information

management framework (including the role of

each team member)

• Discussion of individual learning insights

B.) Oral presentation of an executive summary for a delegation

of A-Welle’s directorate (duration: 7 minutes/team)

C.) Physical deliverables (due at final presentation)

• Prototypes of proposed design

• Copies of renderings of proposed design

• 5 copies of a comprehensive final project report,

which should include the following sections:

1. Executive summary clearly outlining the key

points of the proposed design and why A-Welle

should pursue it.

2. Background research section documenting any

relevant background research that was conducted.

3. Requirements section documenting the final list

of design requirement the team generated and

the key stakeholders the requirements target.

4. Design development section documenting the

different ideas that were generated and the decision

making process that was used to select

the final concept (with rationale).

5. Design specification section documenting the

specifications of the proposed design (detailed

engineering drawings, including materials information

should be placed here).

6. Design Process section documenting the overall

design development and interdisciplinary processes

that were used by the team (including

reflection on the multi-cultural and interdisciplinary

aspects of the project).

Information and Collaboration

Technologies ICT

POLE is offering a modern infrastructure with respect

to information and communication technologies (ICT).

POLE encourages the partner universities to support

their students with respect to ICT as much as possible, in

particular granting them access to their own information

technologies. The following list of ICT tools characterizes

the minimum and necessary standards:

• 24 hours per day access to work stations, so students

can work on their tasks and are able to communicate

at all times

• Access to telephones with international access for

conference calls

• Video conferencing facilities (available at least 2

hours per week and team)

• Suitable IT support (firewalls, basic support)

• Broad band internet access

• MS-Office including PowerPoint, Acrobat Reader, ZIP

and FTP programmes

During the kick-off sessions POLE will provide instruction

in the use of data transfer tools for the sharing of the use of

Project ON TRACK 9

video conferencing as well as in disciplinary applications.

Restriction: It must be noted that for synchronous com-

munication there is only support provided by POLE for

operating systems Windows 2000 (and higher). The POLE

ICT experts will also assist the teams in terms of security

of internet interactions in the confidentiality context.

Team Composition

The POLE ON TRACK course 2012 is based on the partnership

of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern

Switzerland (with its faculties of industrial design, applied

psychology and computer science), Tecnológico de Monterrey

(Mexico), SCAD Savannah (USA), University of

Colorado, Boulder (USA), Blekinge Institute of Technology,

Karlskrona (Sweden) and Merz Akademie, Stuttgart


Approx. 30 students in five (possibly six) interdisciplinary

teams will work on the design and development of a novel

concept for an improved interface under the guidance and

supervision of more than 10 faculty members.

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation of the project results will be in the duty of

an international jury. It will consist of one member of each

discipline and two members of the POLE directorate as

well as of members of A-Welle. Each team will receive a

report with an acknowledgement of the contributions according

to the following criteria: (1) fulfilment of A-Welles’s

requirements (a list of specifications will be handed out

during the kick-off week by the patron), (2) usability, (3) innovative

potential of solutions, (4) presentation of product,

(5) general impressions.

Confidentiality Agreement

Due to the high potential of such a novel product A-Welle

and POLE have agreed to respect a confidentiality agreement

which in turn has to be signed by all partners involved

in the project. Individual copies for each participant will

be sent to the selected students in advance and shall be

ready for signature at the kick-off event.

Budget for Production Costs

Each team is granted a budget of max. € 500 for material

and production expenses. Payments can only be made by

POLE against bills or (signed) receipts.

Cost of Living and Accommodation

Thanks to the financial support of sponsors and

the industry partner A-Welle, POLE is able to

partially subsidize the cost of living and those for the


documentations and hand-outs for the participating



Note: Each participant is responsible for her/his own

insurance matters.

Project Agenda

Virtual Kick-Off

(by Videoconference from Home Universities):

September 11, 2012

Physical Kick-Off

at University of Applied Sciences North Western

Switzerland FHNW, Campus Windisch

September 21 (evening) – September 26, 2012

Review 1

(by Videoconference from Home Universities)

October 23, 2012

Review 2

(by Videoconference from Home Universities)

November 27, 2012

Final Presentations

(all teams, faculty, jury, industry partners)

January 9, 2013

University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland




Prof. Dr. Christoph Holliger and Dr. Doris Agotai

University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland

Klosterzelgstrasse 2, CH-5210 Windisch, Switzerland

Information POLE Project

christoph.holliger@fhnw.ch or doris.agotai@fhnw.ch

Layout and illustrations

Dr. Doris Agotai and Hans Peter Wyss

Copyright © POLE September 2012

Print 200

Project ON TRACK 11

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